AlcaLu Goes Commercial With 100G
The card is for the 1830 Photonic Service Switch, the flagship DWDM box announced in 2008. (See AlcaLu Gets Tropical in the Metro.)
It's also designed to work with older Lucent DWDM boxes, the 1625 LambdaXtreme and 1626 Light Manager, but the 1830 can reach higher densities -- 500 Gbit/s per box, with each system filling one third of a rack, says Sam Bucci, AlcaLu's vice president of terrestrial networks.
AlcaLu won't consider the cards to be ready for volume shipping until the end of the month. But when asked if someone could get their hands on one today, Bucci says yes, that could be done.
The only coherent 100-Gbit/s DWDM product currently shipping comes from the former Metro Ethernet Networks (MEN) division of Nortel Networks Ltd. that's now owned by Ciena. Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is using the technology on its network in Europe. (See Verizon Switches On 100G in Europe, Ciena/Nortel Product Plans Revealed, and Ciena Closes Nortel MEN Purchase.)
AlcaLu is claiming an industry first of its own, though. Its 100-Gbit/s transmission uses just one carrier wavelength. Ciena's technology uses two carriers, although the transmission occupies just one spot on the ITU DWDM grid. (See Analyst: AlcaLu's 100G Game-Changer.)
AlcaLu also says it doesn't need any guard bands -- unused portions of spectrum -- on either side of its 100 Gbit/s, thanks to proprietary tricks that the company isn't explaining in detail. Guard bands would normally be required in order to keep the 100-Gbit/s signal from interfering with neighboring 10- or 40-Gbit/s signals.
Like most of the systems vendors developing coherent 100-Gbit/s technology, AlcaLu designed the two crucial chips on its own, those being an analog/digital converter (ADC) and a digital signal processor (DSP). "Bell Labs has been working in earnest over the last -- oh, half decade or so, I'd say -- to come up with the right algorithms," Bucci says. (See 100G Watch: Components Wanted.)
The company also developed its own 100-Gbit/s optics.
AlcaLu plans to use this same coherent technology in a 40-Gbit/s card, which won't be available for a few weeks yet, but which will feature in the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) subsea network. (See AlcaLu Bags Subsea Deal.)
And it's going to keep working the chip technology to get to higher speeds.
"We're getting pinged by our customers for speeds in excess of 100 Gbit/s, from a multiplexing perspective, not just a router perspective, so we're going to continue the program," Bucci says.
Unlike Ciena, AlcaLu doesn't have any deployments to crow about yet, but the company did run a trial for Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF), showing off the ability to run 100 Gbit/s alongside 10- and 40-Gbit/s wavelengths. And last week, Japanese carrier SoftBank Corp. used the 100-Gbit/s card in the tradeshow network at Interop Tokyo. (Bucci admits the show didn't need all 100 Gbit/s.)
All told, AlcaLu claims it's got about 20 carriers testing its 100-Gbit/s cards.
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading